• Indigenous peoples in Cambodia

    Indigenous peoples in Cambodia

    Cambodia is home to 24 different indigenous peoples and constitute 2-3% of the national population

Cambodia

Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia

Cambodia is home to 24 different indigenous peoples, who speak mostly Mon-Khmer or Austronesian languages, and constitute 3% of the national population with an estimated 250,000 to 400,000 individuals. The Indigenous territories include the forested plateaus and highlands of North-eastern Cambodia, approximately 25% of the national territory.

While not disaggregated in the national census, other data confirms that Cambodian Indigenous Peoples continue to face discrimination and coerced displacement from their lands that are extinguishing them as distinct groups. These patterns are driven by ongoing state and transnational corporate ventures for resource extraction/conversion (mainly timber, minerals, hydro and agribusiness), coupled with growing in-migration from other parts of the country.

Political framework for Indigenous Peoples

Cambodia voted in 2007 to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without reservation, and has ratified the CERD, CEDAW, and CRC. It has not assented to ILO Convention 169. During its last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) (2013), Cambodia accepted a recommendation that it “increase measures to tackle illegal land evictions [of] Indigenous People, and consider fortifying the legislative framework consistently with international standards.” However, this has so far not led to actual remedy to the discrimination and land insecurity Indigenous Peoples continued to face to this day. 

Main challenges for Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia

An Indigenous rights movement that began in the late 1990s continued to fight for their human rights; however, with deteriorating democratic freedoms and serious human rights violations, the ground on which the Indigenous rights movement exists has become more precarious. The repressive regime of Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which has ruled the country since 1985, has persisted on a path of corruption, human rights abuses and non-democratic rule. In 2020, the government continued to target the independent media, civic organizations, NGOs, individuals exercising their civil and political rights and the opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was banned in 2017.

The Indigenous World 2021: Cambodia

Cambodia is home to 24 different Indigenous Peoples, who speak mostly Mon-Khmer or Austronesian languages and constitute approx. 3% of the national population.[1] With an estimated population of 250,000 to 400,000, they are not clearly disaggregated in national census data.[2] The Indigenous territories include the forested plateaus and highlands of North-eastern Cambodia, approximately 25% of the national territory. Cambodia’s Indigenous Peoples continue to face discrimination and forced displacement from their lands, which is extinguishing them as distinct groups.[3] These patterns are driven by ongoing state and transnational corporate ventures for resource extraction (mainly mining, timber and agribusiness), coupled with growing in-migration from other parts of the country. Cambodia voted to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without reservation in 2007, and has ratified the CERD, CEDAW and CRC but has still not ratified ILO Convention 169.[4]

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Indigenous World 2019: Cambodia

Cambodia is home to 24 different indigenous peoples, who speak mostly Mon-Khmer or Austronesian languages, and constitute 2-3% of the national population, around 400,000 individuals.1

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Indigenous World 2020: Cambodia

Cambodia is home to 24 different Indigenous Peoples, who speak mostly Mon-Khmer or Austronesian languages and constitute 1.4% of the national population, or around 400,000 individuals.1,2 The Indigenous territories include the forested plateaus and highlands of North-eastern Cambodia, approximately 25% of the national territory. While not disaggregated in the national census, other data confirms that Cambodian Indigenous Peoples continue to face discrimination and forced displacement from their lands, which is extinguishing them as distinct groups.3

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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